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Proving Negligence in California Wrongful Death Claims

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The loss of a loved one is difficult unto itself, but their unexpected loss, especially because of someone’s negligence, can be harder to come to terms with. Apart from the grief and emotional trauma the decedent’s survivors may face, they also have financial burdens to worry about.

Fortunately, you can file for a wrongful death claim in California, which can provide compensation and ease your financial hardship. However, you must establish or prove the other party’s negligence before you can be awarded compensation. This is where having a wrongful death attorney comes in handy in Los Angeles. They can offer legal assistance and help you prove the following things:

  1. Duty of care
  2. Breach of Duty/Negligence
  3. Causation

These are the three elements you, the plaintiff, must prove so you can be compensated for the damages incurred from your loved one’s death, including loss of financial support, funeral expenses, and other damages depending on the context of the case.

Proving Duty of Care

There isn’t a specific legal definition of duty of care in California. However, duty of care typically refers to a party’s responsibility to exercise reasonable care to ensure the safety of and prevent foreseeable harm to other people. For instance, a person driving a car should exercise duty of care, ensuring that they are being a responsible driver so as not to crash into other vehicles or hit a pedestrian.

In a wrongful death case in California, the judge will decide whether duty of care was owed to the victim by the defendant. In deciding, they will usually rely on what is called the Rowland factors. This includes the foreseeability of harm, the certainty of suffering from harm, and the connection of the defendant’s action to the harm that occurred.

Proving Breach of Duty 

If the judge determines that duty of care was owed to your deceased loved one, you must now present evidence that the other party breached that duty. In short, you must prove that they were negligent, and this negligence contributed to or resulted in the death of your loved one. Under California laws, negligence is the failure to use reasonable care to prevent harm to oneself or to others.

Continuing with the example above, you must present evidence that the other party was either driving drunk, not paying attention to the road, or was distracted, therefore being negligent. To successfully prove this, you must be able to convince the jury that your evidence and version of the incident is more than 50 percent likely to be the truth.

Proving Causation

If you successfully prove the defendant’s breach of duty, the final hurdle is to prove that their negligence directly caused harm to your deceased loved one. Going by the above example, there needs to be substantial evidence that the driver’s actions or lack thereof lead to them fatally hitting your loved one.

This is why it is essential to preserve evidence. Depending on the circumstances of the case, proving causation can be tricky. A wrongful death lawyer can collect and go over pieces of evidence, like medical reports, accident records, and other documentation, and then connect these pieces of evidence to the death of your loved one, proving the defendant negligent.

Receive Reliable Wrongful Death Assistance

At Haffner Law, our wrongful death attorneys can help you file for a wrongful death claim and secure comprehensive compensation for the death of your loved one.

To speak with an attorney, contact 1-844-HAFFNER today.

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